Singapore to jail and fine those who do not keep a 1-meter physical distance in public

Red tape displayed on stools act as social distancing markers at a food market in the district of Whampoa in Singapore, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Bloomberg

Singapore has announced stiff fines and jail for those who do not observe social distancing measures put in place to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Health on Thursday, people who do not observe physical distancing of one meter in “non-transient” interactions can be fined up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($6,985) or be jailed up to six months, or face both penalties.

Such interactions include people on seats not fixed to the floor, who intentionally sit less than one meter from another seated individual in a public place. People standing in a queue in public places who are less than one meter away from the next person, will also be prosecuted, according to the rules.

The regulations took effect overnight and will be in place till April 30.

Similar penalties also apply to patients with acute respiratory symptoms who depart from their homes even though they have been issued with five days of medical leave. Residents who breach the 14-day stay-home notices issued to them after their return from another country will also have to comply or face fines or imprisonment, or both.

The number of cases in the city-state started climbing last week compared to February and early March, with most of the new cases imported. Singapore had 683 cases as of Thursday.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, Singapore announced stricter measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. These include limiting gatherings outside of work and school to a maximum of 10 persons. Physical distancing of at least one meter is also required in public settings such as restaurants and queues.

Bars, clubs, cinemas and other entertainment outlets are also shut till April 30. Malls and restaurants have been ordered to reduce crowds if they were to stay open. Religious services are suspended.

Despite being one of the earliest countries to report the outbreak, Singapore has not imposed a full shutdown, with schools, offices and shops staying open.

On Thursday, Singapore said it was setting aside another 48 billion Singapore dollars ($33.64 billion) to support its businesses and households after official preliminary estimates showed the Southeast Asian economy shrinking by more than expected in the first quarter of this year.

— CNBC’s Weizhen Tan and Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.e

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